4 August 2021

Premier is happy to be causing harm to border communities just to win Melbourne votes

Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty says it is crystal clear that Premier Daniel Andrews does not care about Victorians living on the border.

Mr Quilty said the tightening of border bubble restrictions will cause enormous damage to communities and businesses and yet have zero impact on the COVID status of Melbourne - the Premier’s only actual focus.

“The border bubble is as far from the current outbreak in Sydney as it is possible to get, yet Mr Andrews is determined to ensure we cannot go about our daily lives just to make sure this COVID theatre plays in his favour,” Mr Quilty said.

“It is infuriating to see this gameplaying continuing with absolutely zero regard for regional Victorians along the border – Mr Andrews wants a ring of steel around Sydney in order to legitimise his actions of the last 18 months, and, because Gladys Berejiklian is not playing to his tune, we are paying the price.

“There are no cases in the border bubble. There are effectively no cases in regional NSW. And if cases do emerge in small regional towns, they can be quickly handled by proportionate localised restrictions.”

Mr Quilty said the new restrictions prevent border communities going interstate to visit family or friends, penalising vulnerable community members as well as businesses, but they do nothing to stop the spread of the virus. With three-quarters of the cross border bubble movement being permitted travel, Mr Quilty added, the restrictions are ineffectual from a health basis.

Mr Quilty said the inability to get clear advice on what is permitted is causing uncertainty and fear.

“My office has received numerous phone calls where people are suffering, they’re at the end of their ability to deal with the restrictions, the fear-mongering, the conflict and confusion which this whole political game is creating,” Mr Quilty said.

“I’m sure it’s great for all the Stand With Dan in Melbourne who feel all cosy and safe, but many hours’ drive further north there are real people on the border being forced to jump through these hoops again, for nothing.

“I’ve been calling this thing ‘COVID theatre’ but it’s now going far beyond that – this is the wilful causing of harm to border residents who have done absolutely nothing to justify it.

“These restrictions are not about health, they are about political decisions in Melbourne, and border bubble residents have to bear the cost.”